The Twelve Divisions of the Mahayana School of Buddhism

Celestial Buddhas
Celestial Buddhas

The Twelve Divisions of the Mahayana Canon are:

1) Sutra – the Buddha’s sermons.

2) Geya – metrical pieces.

3) Gatha – poems or chants.

4) Nidana – sutras written by request, or in answer to a specific questions – often involving precept breaking.

5) Itivrttaka – narratives.

6) Jataka – former lives of the Buddha.

7) Adbhuta-dharma – miracles.

8) Avadana – parables and metaphors.

9) Upadesa – question and answer discourses.

10) Udana – impromptu or unsolicited addresses.

11) Vaipulya – expanded sutras.

12) Vyakarana – prophecies.

 

(Source: Empty Cloud: Translated by Charles Luk & Revised by Richard Hunn, Element Books, (1988), Footnote 2, 189-190)

 

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